ACCRINGTON Stanley manager James Beattie says he feels the same sense of loyalty to the football club that he did 12 months or so ago.

The striker was brought in as a free agent from the footballing wilderness by friend and former team-mate Leam Richardson after the Reds defender took charge following Paul Cook’s switch to Chesterfield.

Soon after Beattie was offered the chance to join Exeter City – a move which would have meant he would be closer to his wife and children at their family home on the south coast. But with the Reds embroiled in a relegation scrap he felt a sense of duty to stay.

Now in charge of the club, he has been linked with a managerial move to Oxford United, with Exeter boss Paul Tisdale ironically the other front runner.

Rumours circulating in Oxford suggested Chris Wilder’s successor would be named today, with Beattie the favourite for the post.

Beattie insists he has not had any contact from the Us, adding that with Stanley still not out of the woods in a congested bottom half of League Two, he feels a responsibility to see the job through.

“I’m 100 per cent focused on what we’re doing here at Accrington and I’m 100 per cent focused on the boys in that dressing room.

“As I’ve said from day one they’re the reason I took the job. They make me smile so much and they make me really happy,” said Beattie, adding he had a sense of gratitude to Stanley for his first managerial opportunity, after helping them to stay in the league last season.

“I think I owe Leam. It was 15 months ago that I wasn’t working and Leam asked me to come and play. I came and really enjoyed it from the moment I came in, and being a Blackburn lad I had a bit of an affinity with the club already.

“Paul Tisdale wanted me to go to Exeter but I wanted to stay loyal. I was part of something and we were in a relegation battle and I wanted to see it through. That was the reason I stayed.

“My family are down on the south coast, Exeter was 60 miles away from where I live just outside Bournemouth and I would have been able to see my children every day and my wife, it would have been the perfect move for me.

“But loyalty is a massive part of what I’m about, and I thought that I had to stay loyal to Leam because he’s my friend and stay loyal to the boys.”

He added: “I know now, sitting on the other side of the fence, the things that go on day in day out and I’m in the same position now, and I think I owe a lot to Leam and Peter Marsden the chairman for giving me the opportunity.”

Beattie is overseeing another battle against the drop, with the Reds’ cause boosted by a 5-1 thumping of rivals Morecambe on Tuesday, which lifted them into 15th.

But there is more work to do with just 10 games to go, starting with the visit of Plymouth Argyle.

And Beattie confirmed that he would be in charge for the game.

“I will be the manager on Saturday, 100 per cent,” said Beattie.